The story of how Koreans survived while Japanese ruled over them is very inspiring. They were able to continue to keep their culture, economy and military alive in spite of the Japanese colonization. Passing down historical moments from generation to generation was very important then as it is even now. A total of 7 generals and officers were appointed during this 35 year time frame, which is very significant story on how one can continue to persevere in spite of being pull down by another.
Korean Empire was short-lived from 1897 until Japan took over in 1910 until 1945. Emperor Gojong oversaw the initial Empire being modernized and then Sunjong took over until it was colonized by Japan in 1910. During this time frame, plenty of reforms, treaties, and other events took place. August 22, 1904, the Japan – Korea treaty was signed which required Korea to engage financial and diplomatic advisors to Japan. In September 1905, Russia and Japan signed a treaty to further establish Japan’s influence over Korea. Throughout Japan’s 35-year takeover, Korea managed to stand strong through its military efforts with rising generals and other officials who made their country great.
Crown Prince Yi Un was the first and possible the best Lieutenant General to serve Korea. After graduating from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy May 25, 1917, he became a Second Lieutenant December 25th and continue to rise through the ranks to later become the Lieutenant General in 1940. He was refused to come home in 1945 but in 1963 the Korean president at that time allowed him to return. He was too ill but sought treatment in Seoul, Korea. Seven years later he died at Nakseon Hall, a former residence of an Imperial family in Korea. He is buried at Hongreung at Namyangju near Seoul.
Another Korean Prince was brought to Japan in 1918 and later entered the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. Yi Geon was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in 1930, promoted to Lieutenant in 1932 and later became a captain in 1936. He ended his military career with a rank of Colonel in 1945 at the end of the World War II. Like Yi Un, Yi Geon was not allowed back into Korea. After losing his status by the SCAP in 1947, he became a naturalized citizen of Japan in 1950.
Although Japan did not draft Koreans into their Army until 1944, they were still able to enlist and serve under Japanese governance. A huge increase of participants wanting to serve Korean rose greatly. In 1938 there were 2,946 applications but only 406 were accepted. But in 1943, 303,294 applied but 6,300 were accepted to serve in the army. The first 10 Chiefs of Army of Staff of Korea graduated from Imperial Japanese Army Academy and none from the Korean Liberation Army. Korean draftees either served in the military or as a laborer to prepare for war at various sites.
After Korea became independent again, they were able to recover via economic growth and agriculture, along with new generations being born to bring hope to the country. In spite of enduring assassinations, persecutions, racism and all around discrimination, this amazing country stood strong in what they believed in. The stories they will tell through historical archives will last forever. The world would know what happened in the 35-year colonization from Japan but they would also know the strength and courage it took to be redeemed. What we see now is a long way from what occurred during the Empire of Korea. They must remain strong because they should be acknowledged.